Monday, August 23, 2010

Whitaker's Eighth Argument

Whitaker's eighth argument defending Sola Scriptura can be summarized (with a small amount of liberty) as follows:

P1. The oral revelation given to the patriarchs did not require the authority of the Church to authenticate it; the patriarchs believed it upon receiving it by virtue of hearing God speak.

P2. The written revelation of the canon is of the same kind and authority as the oral revelation given to the patriarchs.


C. The canon does not require the authority of the Church to authenticate it to us; it should be received in the same manner as the patriarchs received oral revelation.

Whitaker seems to draw additional support for the immediate reception of God's words in P1. from an appeal to Romans 2:15, where Paul says that God's law is written on our hearts. This belief in the law comes, therefore, not from the testimony of the Church. (I would add that this is especially the case since the subject of Romans 2:15 is gentiles who have never heard the law before.) But if the law, which is natural, can be discerned without the Church, how much more the Gospel, which "transcends all nature, and therefore needs some greater kind of confirmation" (the greater confirmation, according to Whitaker, being the Holy Spirit).

I'd add my own support for P2. by noting that God communicates his Words through ordinary means. The patriarchs either audibly heard God speak to them or used the mind's "ear." In either case, physical processes (for even the latter arguably required some level of brain function) were utilized to obtain mental understanding. There doesn't seem to be a significant or functional difference between this and reading or hearing the Words of God in the written canon. If this process of knowing God's Word was valid for the patriarchs, why would it be invalid for Protestants?


Anonymous said...


It seems the Apostle Paul agrees with your take on P2, or is it the other way around? :):

Act 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Shultz,

By all means, please receive the written revelation the same way as the Patriarchs. Basically, receive it by faith, moved by God's grace. Thus, avoiding the authority of the Church (which was never around for the Patriarchs).

But, I think that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob constituted a community of believers retaining revelation. Here is the authenticity you want.
Both a spiritual and biological unity existed with these Fathers for the purpose of trasmitting Revelation.

What principal of unity draws believing recipients of written revelation into agreement over the full list of Sacred Books (canon)?

Is it just because men *agree* or is there something higher and more authoritative, like maybe the written revelation testifies to the Canon ?

Ryan said...

"What principal of unity draws believing recipients of written revelation into agreement over the full list of Sacred Books (canon)?"

John 10:3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.
5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice."


26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.
27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

1 John 4:4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.
6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit[a] of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

Anonymous said...


You do well quoting the Scriptures. They witness to the Triune God as the principle of unity. (see the CCC #813)
Ecumenism kicks in full speed-
The second person of the Trinity prayed before His Father that those who believe in them may be one they are one.

Safest ground is to remain in quotes of the New Testament where *agreement over written revelation* between Ryan/EBW is evident (admonishements towards one another are easier).

Join me. I wish to quote the written revelation and challenge your agreement/faith:

Baruch reproaches those who deny the Father/Son when he says they left the fountain of Wisdom (Baruch 3:12)

...the put from them the Wisdom springing, from it, our Lord Jesus Christ (for'christ', says the Apostle, is 'God's power and God's wisdom (1Cor.1:24).
-Athanasius Discourse II against the Arians